Project Ara:

It’s a huge progress!

Prior to its acquisition of Motorola Mobility in 2011, Google had previously acquired some patents related to modular mobile phones from Modu. Initial exploration of this concept began in 2012 and work started on April 1, 2013. Dutch designer Dave Hakkens announced the Phonebloks modular phone concept independently in September 2013. Motorola publicly announced Project Ara on October 29, 2013 and said they will be working collaboratively with Phonebloks. Motorola went on a 5-month road trip throughout the United States in 2013 called “MAKEwithMOTO" to gauge consumer interest in customized phones. Interested developers, testers, or users can sign up to be Ara Scouts.

The first version of the developers’ kit relies on a prototype implementation of the Ara on-device network using the MIPI UniPro protocol implemented on FPGA and running over an LVDS physical layer with modules connecting via retractable pins. Subsequent versions will soon be built around a much more efficient and higher performance ASIC implementation of UniPro, running over a capacitive M-PHY physical layer.

A near-working prototype of an Ara smartphone was presented at Google I/O 2014; however, the device froze on the boot screen and failed to boot completely. Globant also announced that they will make a Google Play like dedicated hardware store for Project Ara.